Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Why such hate from agents?

“Why such hate from agents (Realtors)?” This was the question asked of me early this morning from a Realtor, I have always heard was involved in the process of disparaging me with other agents, who may have found a little enlightenment over the past few days. She is having difficulty comprehending the very obvious hate from some Realtors, who are not involved with me, and apparent love she is discovering from those who have worked with me consistently for many years. Why is it that hundreds of Realtors hate me, talk bad of me, prefer that I not be involved in their transaction, consistently bad mouth me among their peers and belittle agents who choose to work with me? 

They say confession is good for the soul so for the first time, in 20 years, I am going to confess. There are a huge number of Realtors who hate me because, when I started in this business, that was one of my primary goals and it has worked well for me. When I attempted to explain this goal to my Realtor wife she said that I was nuts, that my business and success would come from Realtors and that I could not make it in home inspections with such an attitude. 

I had never been on a home inspection with a home inspector. Imagine that. I started in the business with very little concept of how my competitors did what they did, and I didn’t care. I learned from classes, books and formed my own concept of what a home inspection should be. The state of North Carolina has a minimum standard of practice and I quickly learned that most home inspectors, for the most part, limited themselves to that standard. My thought process was that I would want a home inspector who cared about me and my family.
Who would be better than a father or grandfather with extensive construction experience? I had a father like that, was a father like that and later became a grandfather like that. So why not inspect homes to a higher standard and become that to my clients. Inspect homes as if your child was the buyer and your grandchildren would be the occupants. It did not appear to me that is what other home inspectors were doing based on their reports and the outcomes of their inspections.

To put it in the terms of a leader in our industry I considered every home an elephant hunt but found the elephants by looking for the tiniest little squirrel most inspectors were ignoring and unlike them, I included those in my reports. Then, I included things they choose to ignore, because it made too many waves with Realtors, including but not limited to abandoned wells, below grade fuel oil tanks, asbestos, placed radon monitors in unfinished basements as was the confusing intent of the EPA standards which most test providers chose to ignore because the test would be lower pleasing more folk. The EPA, at my request, later clarified that requirement bolstering what had been my position since the beginning forcing others to follow instead of buck my lead. 

On one of my very early inspections I was confronted by a high performing listing agent who chose to stay by my side and argue about everything I brought up. I politely ask her to step out in the yard and advised her that she had a choice. She could leave, or I would leave. She left and has spread her hate of me throughout the industry ever since. I can quote her comment to my wife “You know I hate your husband”. This spread like wildfire through her company and other high performing agents who have basically black-balled me forever. 

How do you become a successful home inspector while being black-balled by most high performing agents? You connect with those they don’t have influence over, many of which are new agents. You ride up the ladder as part of those new agent’s team until they are high performing agents. Hence the agents who love me and the ones who don’t. 

An interesting thing happened to me before I actually did my first inspection. I attended a meeting of the local chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors and sat beside of the only person in the room I knew. He happed to be one of the longest serving and respected home inspectors in the community, as well as a structural engineer, and his book reflected that. When asked for introduction of new attendees he stood up and said, “Gentleman allow me to introduce my greatest fear in this industry who will now be inspecting the homes we have previously inspected.” He went on to explain who I was and that I had more construction experience than everyone in the room together. Now, that is the way to break the ice in a room filled with strangers. 

Now we have this guy with extensive experience and knowledge setting out to conduct a home inspection as if he were the buyers father or grandfather. The result was more detailed tougher inspections and reports than the Realtors were accustomed to seeing. The guy who introduced me above’s report might have 8 pages while mine could be 40 or even 100. Now the Realtors happy listing weren’t so happy. If you aren’t happy with this inspector how do you keep him out of your listings? Simple, represent him to all of the agents you associate with as a deal killer we don’t want involved with our home inspections. And they did and still do. 

Why would I start out on such a crazy path?  I became, over time, the home inspector the buyers began to demand and that Realtors, who honestly care about their client’s best interest, preferred. I enhanced that by becoming the most available inspector covering a larger area and working crazy hours seven days a week. When your inspector of choice wasn’t available I was. I became the number two choice by default. I was available when they were not. 



There you have it, the most hated home inspector loved by a few and by his home buyer clients who spread the word bringing more business than he can handle.  

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The Home Inspection Crisis

As I write this article I am 67 years old with over 30 years’ experience in residential and commercial construction and 20 as a home and commercial building inspector. I am with little argument one of the most experienced inspectors in the State of North Carolina and for that part North America. I have pretty much maxed out the volume I am personally able to handle alone. Having trained numerous construction superintendents, project managers, dealt with too many subcontractors suppliers and employees, I committed in 1998 to work on my own for the remainder of my life.  With the average home inspector in his 60’s (yes most are men), past what is generally considered, put out to pasture retirement age, on Medicare, currently or soon drawing Social Security, who will inspect your homes in the future? One day it dawned on me, listening to Realtors concerned about my retirement, that I am the problem. I fully intend to continue inspecting into my 80’s and have many years left inspecting your homes and commercial buildings. But, what happens as I have all the volume I can handle, if I get hurt, sick, too tired to continue, my bride decides she wants to travel more or, as we all will, drop dead?

After great consideration and consternation, I think I may have discovered a solution in a much younger guy, who grew up on a tobacco farm in Pinnacle, North Carolina at the foot of Pilot Mountain, red neck country boy, Eagle Scout Drew Cline. Drew has spent 12 years as a pest inspector and technician addressing wood destroying insects, moisture and wild life issues in homes. Drew is loved by his clients and the Realtors he has worked with. Drew sat under the tutelage of Bonnie and Tom Gregory, the best home inspector instructors available in North Carolina at the Home Inspector Training Center in Burlington. Now Drew is working by the old man’s side learning the nuances of actually inspecting homes and commercial buildings. Drew is now, without doubt, the most experienced, best supervised, best new home inspector in North Carolina. Working, by my side, Drew has already inspected more homes and commercial buildings than any other new inspector in NC. Now we are working on osmosis passing my experience over to him as he works along with me.

Crisis alleviated? Not quite yet. 

You must play your part.

Now the future of home inspections in North Carolina is in your hands as the homebuyers and Realtors assisting homebuyers. Drew will not be inspecting homes you don’t book him to inspect. Be assured that Drew has his mentors readily available should he need us, and should your booking be old or complex, I will be right by his side. Go to this link, fill out the information about the home then on the next page PICK DREW! 

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What a client thinks

Todays 5 star Google review: "Chris was absolutely amazing. I am so glad he did my inspection. He was very thorough, he explained everything so I understood what was going on. He really showed a concern and was very detailed with his work. I will definitely recommend him to anybody that needs a home inspection."

Monday, October 16, 2017

What a Realtor thinks

Five star google review from a Relator I have worked with for many years: "I always recommend Chris. He is one of the most experienced and professional inspectors that I ever encountered. Decades of experience as a builder, and very familiar with building codes past and present. Excellent with clients (both buyers and sellers) and explaining the items on the inspection whether they are something to be concerned about or not."

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Bananas in Thomasville NC

Never a dull moment in the home inspection field, always encountering something new and unusual. Never know banana grew in Thomasville NC or what would occur if said tree were planted too close to a basement foundation wall.




Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What a client thinks

Today's FIVE star Google review" "By spending the money for this inspection, we were able to negotiate the repairs on some things that needed to be done immediately and save an extra $2,500 on items we can do ourselves later. Chris Hilton was great to work with and very knowledgable in his chosen field. This was money well spent."

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What a client thinks

September 4th review on Angie's List on a newly constructed home: "Outstanding work. Very professional and pricing was great. Recommend Chris highly, as he takes the time to discuss his findings as he goes - allowing you to comprehend the issues at hand. This lets you decide ahead of time, if there are sever enough issues to cut your losses or if they can be easily resolved. Price below ($716) includes cost of Radon test (48 hour monitor) and home inspection > 3000 sq ft, along with orbiter free benefits post inspection."

Monday, August 21, 2017

What a client thinks

Review from yet another satisfied client on the second home after the first failed to work out:

"I have had the pleasure of working with this fine gentleman who went above and beyond to inspect and assure that I was going to be a safe and happy homeowner. He is an expert in this field as evidenced by his detailed report. He explained findings as he moved from one room to another and allowed time for me to ask question right then."

"Needless to say, I'm very pleased, would definitely use him again, and too happy to recommend him to anyone. He has my stamp of approval!"

Sunday, August 13, 2017

What a client thinks

Young first time home buyer Google Review: "I give 5 (stars) due to Chris Hilton's knowledge finding detailed issues inside and outside the house. He explained in detail of what was happening and how to fix the issues. He has great morals, experience in building houses and knowledge of all codes. To ensure your house is safe you're getting inspected. Very kind and doesn't mind if you tag along with him so he can explain in detail. I highly recommend Chris Hilton over the other inspectors. He is who you want on your side.

Monday, July 31, 2017

What a client thinks

Client review on Google:

"Chris has been wonderful to work with! He inspected two different homes for us during our search for a new home and provided valuable feedback on both. He even went back a second tome to re-inspect something for us and gave a detailed explanation of the results so we could make a fully informed decision."

Monday, July 3, 2017

What clients think

Client's reviews left on Google:

"Chris was awesome! Super thorough and very detailed. Did a great job I was beyond satisfied and definitely felt I got more than my money's worth. Would absolutely recommend him to anyone looking to get a home inspection."

"I have had two homes inspected by Chris (we ended up backing out of the first one) and we loved him both times. He was extremely thorough and explained what he was doing and why. He told us what was good and what might be a concern now or even down the road. He was extremely friendly and professional! We highly recommend him."

Saturday, June 24, 2017

What a client thinks

A realtor shared this comment received from a client: "By the way, Chris Hilton that you guys recommended for the inspection is amazing. I was able to get an incredible insurance quote through a program he signed me up for as well as a great deal for home security."

As advertised our involvement does not stop at the end of your home inspection.